Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Identifying the bad public authorities

One of the spin of benefits of submitting Freedom of Information requests to a large number of public authorities is that you can start to identify the good councils, those that supply the information you requested and the poor councils, those who spend more time and effort trying to stop you getting hold of public information than it would take just to give it you in the first place.

It's also quite amusing to read some of the reasons for refusal. Cost grounds is a popular excuse but another more recent excuse emerging is copyright. What councils fail to understand is that the fact information is subject to copyright and restrictions on re-use does not exempt it from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. Their position is all the more absurd when you realise that every person in the world could ask for exactly the same information which they are refusing to give to one person (me) just in case it gets published for everyone to read.

Thereby creating the bizarre situation where they may have to deal with thousands of FOI requests for the same information rather than just one. Only a tax payer funded institution would accept the logic of that.

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